VIENNA — Spain's Feliciano Lopez credits a recent haircut with somehow improving his tennis, and the sixth seed isn't about to modify his new grooming routine after reaching the second round of the Austria Tennis Trophy here on Tuesday.
Lopez, who has a special place in his heart for Vienna, advanced in his opening match over local wild card Andreas Haider-Maurer 6-4, 6-4.
"I really like it here - it's the scene of my first and only trophy," said the number 45 who lifted the indoor title here in 2004 over Argentine Guillermo Canas.
The Spaniard next faces either Finn Jarkko Nieminen or Daniel Koellerer, another home player at the Stadthalle.
Lopez, 15-21 in what has been a disappointing ATP season, has dropped from 27th since the start of the year.
Much of that is due to a dozen first-round losses, the most recent in Malaysia last month.
But everything changed after a serious spin in the barber's chair, with the 28-year-old suddenly picking up his pace with a semi-final in Shanghai against Rafael Nadal, the first of his career at the Masters 1000 level.
"I was losing so much that I just had to do something about it. I didn't know what else, so I cut my hair. All of a sudden I started to win, so I don't want to change a thing now."
Lopez is making his sixth appearance in Vienna and now stands 15-4 with quarter-finals or better in his five previous visits.
A painful calf injury forced defending champion Philipp Petzschner to withdraw before his opening match.
"I hurt myself Monday morning in the calf," said the unseeded Petzschner, winner of the title last year over Frenchman Gael Monfils, seeded third this week.
"I took a step and felt a sharp pain. I tried to hit this morning and did every treatment possible. But the risk of a serious injury is just too great."
Petzschner was replaced in the field by qualifying rounds lucky loser Michael Berrer, ranked 133rd who made the most of his opportunity with a defeat of Belgian Steve Darcis 6-3, 6-2.
Top seed Marin Cilic was opening in the first round against Colombia's Alejandro Falla, with the Croatian seed hoping to secure one of two places remaining in next month's ATP World Tour Finals in London.
The last two spots will be decided over this week and the next two through the Paris Masters at Bercy from November 9. Second-seeded Czech Radek Stepanek and Monfils are also in with mathematical chances for the year-end event.
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